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With the right combination of players, veteran coach Welk has the Davis Darts eyeing a state title

Davis High School basketball coach Jay Welk celebrates team's victory in tournament play in March 2002. The Darts won the state title that year.

Davis High School basketball coach Jay Welk celebrates team’s victory in tournament play in March 2002. The Darts won the state title that year.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

The sounds of the gymnasium were all too familiar. The sharp squeaking of slightly worn sneakers, the thud of a basketball as it pounded down on the hardwood, and the voices of players as they switched off of screens, yelled for defensive pressure or called for the ball.

These were the sounds of a Davis High boys basketball team practice.

At 17-2 overall and 9-1 in Region 1 play, the Davis Darts have proven they belong with the state's elite.

Coach Jay Welk is in his 16th year with the Darts, and his resume shows he knows a thing or two about success.

"I think every coach has his own philosophy, and I've developed my own through the years," he said. "I've refined it a little bit — maybe a lot. We look for players to be disciplined with their approach to the game. We look to play together as a team — that's very important — and we work hard.

" I think if you look for trademarks of our team, and were to say something positive, those are three things I hope you'd say about our team."

If you've seen the Darts play this season it's apparent that they've taken Welk's teachings to heart.

Davis has an excellent backcourt in senior Stratton McCausland, junior Nick Martineau, and senior Brian Green. All three have the potential to beat teams from the outside. Another weapon for Davis is that these guards can take it to the rim. Their ability to knock down open threes provides space inside for the other players.

"They know the difference between a good shot and a bad shot," Welk says, "That's why they're good shooters, they don't take poor shots."

Welk also commented on his team's attitude.

"Players aren't made in season — they're made out of season," Welk said. "These kids are exceptionally hard workers. That's why they've had the success that they've had so far."

Welk added, "This team is good because they've decided to be good. They're a talented team, and they work hard. It's a successful combination."

That combination also has worked for Welk in the past.

During his tenure, the Darts have won four region championships, and played in three state championship games, winning the title in 2002.

They're on target again this year with a good chance of adding to that storied history. But the Darts know they shouldn't look any further than the next game.

"We need to stick to the basics, take it one game at a time," said junior guard Nick Martineau. "We need to come in every game ready to play, and do the same things over and over. We need to keep those things consistent whether it's region, state or whatever. We can't have any letdowns."

The Darts have been ranked No. 1 for much of the year, but they remain focused on each game.

"You don't want to get caught up in rankings," said senior point guard Stratton McCausland. "I mean, we like the recognition and respect, but that's not what we should be focusing on. We should be focusing on winning games."

"Our goal is to win a region championship and then go on from there," said junior center Brady Hurst.

Senior playmaker Brian Green agreed.

"The main goal is to try our hardest to get that region championship," he said.

Green, a steady scorer and solid defender, has played his way into the starting lineup as of late.

With the end of region play nearing, Davis is on track to take control of Region 1, and enter the 5A state tournament as a top seed.

The players were quick to give credit to Welk for the success of the team. They described him as their leader, committed, dedicated, supportive, loyal and competitive.

All traits that are admirable, and useful when building a basketball team.

E-mail: bhedin@desnews.com